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Penguins Report: Gill and Cooke Out

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that defenseman Hal Gill and forward Matt Cooke will not play on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Gill missed his second consecutive practice at the morning skate, while Cooke did participate. Therrien said the team is hoping that both will return on Saturday night in New York against the Rangers.

“You have to be careful with those types of injuries,” Therrien said. “The plan, hopefully they’ll be ready for Saturday. This is what we’re looking for.”

> In the wake of Gill's absence, Therrien reshuffled his defensive pairings for Thursday’s game. The new duos will be Brooks Orpik-Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang-Mark Eaton and Alex Goligoski-Darryl Sydor.

The Penguins have already lost defensemen Ryan Whitney (foot) and Sergei Gonchar (shoulder) for extended durations this season. Pittsburgh has been able to overcome those injuries because of its plethora of quality defensemen.

“We need that depth,” Therrien said. “You never know what’s going (to happen) during the regular season. We’re facing a lot of injuries and adversity as a group out there.”

Scuderi and Orpik have a long history playing together that dates back to 1998. The two were paired during their days in Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and at Boston College.

“I’ve been on Brooks’ team for almost 10 full years now,” Scuderi said. “We know exactly what’s going to happen. We talk well. We played together in parts for a long time.”

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Sydor will dress for the third time this season, and for the first time since Pittsburgh’s home opener against New Jersey on Oct. 11. Despite the lapse between games, the veteran defenseman said that adjusting to the game speed is more of an issue than conditioning.

“The biggest thing is not so much the cardio and stuff like that, just reaction, making your plays out there under pressure,” Sydor said. “In practice you don’t have the same type of pressure. Being around, I know how to play the game. I know what to expect.”

“With a situation like we’re facing, we’re glad we’re capable of bring(ing) Darryl Sydor into the lineup,” Therrien said.

The adjustment for Letang and Eaton should be smooth considering the two played together a majority of last season.

“There are not too many variations of playing defense,” Eaton said. “We have our system so we know where everybody is supposed to be so it’s a non-issue as far as getting adjusted to each other.”

> Following the Penguins' game Thursday night against Carolina, the team will embark on a four-game road trip over eight days. Pittsburgh will play the New York Rangers on Saturday, San Jose on Tuesday, Phoenix next Thursday and St. Louis on Nov. 1. In fact, six of Pittsburgh’s next seven games will be played away from Mellon Arena.

Though the trip may be lengthy, Marc-Andre Fleury reminded reporters that the Penguins spent 10 days in Europe.

“We lived in Sweden,” Fleury said. “On the road, all the guys live together. We’re always at practice, then together after and have dinner together. It’s good to get to know everybody and it’s good for chemistry.”

> Sidney Crosby seems to be winning his battle with a sinus-infection. His voice sounded clear when addressing reporters following Penguins practice on Thursday afternoon, an improvement over his scratchy vocals from the previous days.

“I can actually talk now so that’s good,” he said.

> Like most coaches, Therrien likes to watch the opponent’s morning skate session. But he won’t be able to do that on Thursday because, unlike most teams, the Carolina Hurricanes don’t hold a morning skate. In fact, the team doesn’t fly into an opposing city until the day of the game.

“It’s unusual,” Therrien said of Carolina’s logistics. “I’m sure they’ve got reasons that they don’t want to do it. We have reasons why we do want to do it.”

Pittsburgh handles road trips with the standard NHL procedure of flying into a city the evening before and holding a morning skate the day of the game at the opponent’s arena.

“I know players like to be in their routine on game day,” Therrien said. “They feel comfortable with it. It doesn’t mean that I have the right answer or (Carolina) has the right answer. It goes with your personality.”

> He said it: Eric Godard on adjusting to the Penguins:

“It’s different with every team. With other teams it took a little big longer or I didn’t feel as comfortable. All the (Penguins) are easy going. It was good to jell with them.”

> The Penguins hold their first of four special Student Rush Nights on Thursday night. The team set aside 600 tickets exclusively for college and high school students at $20 each with a valid student ID.

Students camped out on the Gate 8 doorstep early this morning, with one group bringing their own tent. A few students arrived as early as 25 hours before Thursday night’s 7:38 puck drop. Emily Garcia, Cierra Peterson, Molly Evans and Connie Salvayon set up camp in front of the doors at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday to ensure that they get tickets.

“People were starting to show up at midnight,” Garcia said. “I used to come (to Student Rush) all the time and get tickets. I wanted to make sure I got them. I think next time we’ll get here at six (o'clock).”

The young ladies slept on the cement outside of Gate 8 and braved the 37-degree weather with jackets, hoodies and sleeping blankets.

“I think I got two hours of sleep,” Evans said.

The women stayed warm with the help of “self-heating hot chocolate.” They requested a little heater to help keep them warm in the future. Oh, and a porta potty.

"That would be nice," Evans said. "It's a long walk to (rest rooms) from here."

The remaining student rush nights will be held Nov. 13 vs. Philadelphia, Jan. 20 vs. Carolina and March 20 vs. Los Angeles.
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